For me, airguns aren’t just a job. They’ve been an integral part of the last two-thirds of my life. Airguns have gotten me through some rough spots in life, from putting food on my table to providing cheap entertainment when times were tight and friends were scarce. Times have changed, money isn’t as tight as it used to be, and friends have been made along the way. What hasn’t changed for me is my love of the challenge of mastering a budget friendly airgun and putting food on the table with them. The purpose of this blog is to share some of my experiences and insights with new and old airgun enthusiasts alike.
I’m going to kick this blog off with a challenge. The other day, I pulled a returned Barra 1100z in .177 caliber from the warehouse, opened it up, and found it wouldn’t cock. My challenge will be to get it working, get it tuned, and set it up for squirrel hunting in the Ozark woods.
Let’s begin with fixing this rifle. Often, if a 1100z won’t cock, the trigger simply has to be pulled to reset the sear. This one wasn’t playing nice with me, so I’ve got to open this one up. I degassed the rifle, put the safety on, then punched the safety out. The two stock screws get removed, and the entire action lifts out of the stock. The trigger pack is easily removed and in doing so, I discovered a stuck sear.
A gentle nudge with my finger set it straight, and it has been working great ever since. Since I was already here, I went ahead and lightened the pull weight, reduced the sear engagement a tad, and set the over travel limit to my liking. With the trigger fixed and adjusted, it is time to move toward actually shooting the gun.
Since the gun was already degassed and safe to work with, I figured I'd remove the shroud and air stripper so I could give the barrel a cleaning. I pushed a few patches through the barrel with a 1/8" brass rod to remove any excess factory lubricant or other grime that might have built up there. The original owner of this gun must have cleaned it, these patches aren't too bad.
I know these 1100z rifles tend to shoot hot in .177, so I backed the hammer spring adjuster out until it was flush with the rear plug, and hand pumped the rifle to 2000 psi to set a baseline of what this rifle could do. This should give me a decent number of shots optimized for shooting .177 caliber pellets.
A chronograph is an indispensable tool for setting up any PCP, but especially an unregulated PCP like the 1100z. I took 48 shots through my chronograph and logged the speed along with the pressure starting from 2000 psi and ending just under 1200 psi. Here is a plot of the speed over that pressure range:
This gives an extreme spread of 85.2 fps over those shots, averaging 912.4 fps and 15.12 foot pounds of energy. If I wanted to tighten things up a bit, shooting 1800 psi down to 1400 psi, I’ll get 24 shots with a 46 fps extreme spread, averaging 931.1 fps and 15.75 foot pounds of energy.
The ammunition I'm using is the Barra Bowie pellets. They weigh in at 8.18 grains and have a thicker skirt that seems to work really well in magazine fed guns. They also come in a small tin with a foam insert, perfect to carry around for magazine reloads during long hunting excursions. Speed is a tad fast, but seems worth testing to me.
A lot of shooters get caught up in numbers on a screen and have no clue what that translates to on target. I generally hunt small game at 25 yards and under in .177 caliber, so let's throw a scope and bipod on this rifle and see what it can do at that range. I'll be topping this with my Vortex Diamondback Tactical 4-16x44 scope and supporting it with my V8 Atlas bipod. Yeah, I can hear you, but remember, I said money isn't as tight as it used to be and the 1100z is budget friendly in the context of PCP airguns. Let's see what this entry level PCP can do when you give it a solid chance. After taking a couple sighters to get me close to the bullseye, I refilled to 2000 psi and proceeded to put 48 shots at 25 yards on target. Here's my result, first an overview of the target for honesty's sake:
And a closeup view with a dime so you can get an idea of perspective:
As the barrel got some lead through it, the shots shifted and settled a tad right. Nothing a couple of clicks to the left can't fix. Still, 48 shots, the overwhelming majority going through a dime-sized hole at 25 yards is good enough for my purposes. I overcame the challenge I set for myself - started with a broken rifle and ended up with a sweet shooter. In the next blog post, I'll add one of our 1100z regulator kits and see how much of a difference it will make in this rifle. As it sits now, it is ready for some squirrel hunting!